Consent
last updated January 2015
 
In partnership with UN Women, The Advocates for Human Rights created the following sections for UN Women's Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. This section, along with sections addressing other forms of violence against women and girls, may be found under Legislation at www.endvawnow.org
 

Legislation should provide that consent of any person of any age or by a minor's parent is not a defense to a violation of this statute. Focus of legislation should be on the empowerment of women to reject the practice of FGM and enabling a shift in the social norms that support the practice and pressure women into undergoing it for themselves or others. The practice of FGM is so entrenched in social norms and expectations that, without a shift in those underlying norms and individual beliefs, true informed consent to undergo FGM for adult women, completely free from undue pressure, is difficult to ascertain.

Illustrative Examples:

       European Parliament Resolution of 24 March 2009 on combating female genital mutilation in the EU (2008/2071(INI)), Para 28:
The European Parliament . . . [c]alls on the Member States to regard any form of FGM as a crime, irrespective of whether or not the woman concerned has given any form of consent . . .

       Sweden: Act (1982:316) on Prohibiting the Genital Mutilation (“Circumcision”) of Women, Sec. 1: 
An operation may not be carried out on the outer female sexual organs with a view to mutilating them or of bringing about some other permanent change in them (‘circumcision’), regardless of whether consent has been given for the operation or not.

       Victoria, Australia: Crimes Act 1958, Sec. 34 - Consent not a defence to a charge under sections 32 or 33:
It is not a defence to a charge brought under section 32 [Offence to perform female genital mutilation] or 33 [Offence to take a person from the State with the intention of having prohibited female genital mutilation performed] to prove that the person on whom the act which is the subject of the charge was performed, or the parents or guardian of that person, consented to the performance of that act.

       New Zealand: Crimes Act 1961 No. 43, sec. 204A (Female Genital Mutilation), Para 6:
It is no defence to a charge under this section that the person on whom the act involving female genital mutilation was performed consented to that act, or that the person charged believed that such consent had been given. 

       Similarly, Kenya’s Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, 2010, article 3(6): It is no defence to a charge under this section that the person on whom the act involving female genital mutilation was performed consented to that act, or that the person charged believed that such consent had been given.